BISHOPS in the House of
Lords have "fully" supported changes to succession laws to remove
male primogeniture and allow members of the royal family to marry
Roman Catholics (
News, 25 January).
During a debate on the
second reading of the Bill, the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge,
said that there had been a "sea change" in relations between the
Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in recent years; so a law
preventing an heir to the throne from marrying a Roman Catholic was
"somewhat out of time. . . Our position would be that it is very
important that the monarch, as Supreme Governor of the Church of
England, should be a member of it.
"Woven into the fabric of
this country, the Church has helped to build a better society -
more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those
of other faiths."
But Lord Luce, a former
Lord Chamberlain, asked for greater assurances from the RC Church
that any heir to the throne would be raised as an Anglican. He
urged ministers to hold more talks with the RC Church, to ensure
that there was no risk of any "misunderstanding".
"For children to retain
their place in the line of succession, they must be brought up
within the Anglican faith," he told peers.
He questioned whether
there was "sufficient assurance" that heirs to the throne would be
brought up as members of the Church of England. "I ask Her
Majesty's Government whether they would consider exploring with the
Roman Catholic Church - but perhaps particularly with the
Archbishop of Westminster - whether it will clarify further its
attitude," he said.
Lord Luce suggested that
the RC Church should make a clear statement that it accepted "the
importance of the role" of the Church of England, and that royal
children of an interfaith marriage "would be likely to be brought
up in the Anglican faith".
The Bill passed its
Second Reading in the Lords, and will now move on to committee
stage for further scrutiny.